Sunday, December 20, 2020


According to my on-line dictionary an Anachronism is, “a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned.”  There may not be any younger people reading this but, if there are, then a dictionary is a book in which you can look up the definition of words!  Now you just click on your phone for this information.

Think of all the things that have hardly changed.  We don’t have to think about sitting in a chair or setting the table or how to use a knife and fork (of course Europeans do this differently from Americans).  The fly in the ointment is progress which today is mostly in technology.

Remember filling file drawers with maps from different parts of the world?  Today all you have to do is put your destination into Google Maps or a similar app and a nice voice will guide you to your destination.

Our house was built in 1989 and I recently noticed a wall jack next to the toilet. How many under the age of 25 know what this is for?  It is a jack for that old-fashioned telephone, the land line.  After all it was at one time the most convenient innovation that existed.  I guess the original owner of the house, could sit on the toilet with the phone on his lap and do his business (take that any way you want to!). Of course, that was probably a touch tone phone but who can remember using that piece of equipment that had a rotary dial?

Take a look at your library, do you still have the World Book or Encyclopedia Britannica?  When did you last use that? At home when I was young, we had the World Book which was simpler than the Britannica and it was about 10 feet from the apartment foyer in which we ate dinner so that it could be consulted when any question arose. I am ashamed to admit it but most of the time I was too lazy to use it.  Now I don’t even take volumes down from the shelves with Thieme Becker and Benezit (artists’ dictionaries).  I also hardly use the rest of our large library on art history.  No matter where I am, I am no distance at all from the answers on any topic because they are on my phone hanging from my hip!

In the 1990’s when we started to collect Native American Art my wife commissioned a wood carved Katsina sitting at the computer.  Remember those big contraptions.  Today we have laptops and tablets and phones which, all a lot smaller.

Across from my desk is a 12-foot set of shelves; 8 feet have my father’s classical long playing record collection and 4 feet of my theater, folk and calypso music.  Oh yes, for you youngsters they call those vinyl today.  Above that are 12 feet of cd’s, called disks, and in another part of the house a number of DVD’s.  Again, they are all anachronisms because it is all inside this box called the laptop, tablet or cell phone.

The English philosopher John Gray who focuses on the history of ideas has said, “The worst of progress is not that it is an illusion.  It is that it is endless.”

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